The southern staple of oyster pie is a legacy item of Thanksgiving around these parts but I also love to cook this version as well (and lobsters are really inexpensive right now). It's a decadent treat that makes a great side or appetizer. The shiitakes could be chanterelles, oyster mushrooms, porcini... whatever the season is showing off.
oven to 375F
8 slices of sourdough boule, 1/3 of an inch thick drizzled with olive oil,
toasted at 375 until crisp, nicely browned but still with a hint of pliability
2 one-pound fresh hard shell Maine lobsters
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Old Bay
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups shiitakes, sliced
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1/3 of a cup of flat leaf parsley, chopped
pinch of red chile flake
1 ½ cups minced leeks
1 cup heavy cream
pinch grated nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
Bring a large pot of water to a vigorous boil over high heat. Season with salt and Old Bay. Cook in lobsters for five minutes in boiling water, then shock them in ice water to stop the cooking. Using a whatever your favorite lobster cleaning tools, shell and clean them, reserving the shells for a bisque or something. You should have two tails, four claws and the knuckle meat. Coarsely chop all and reserve.
Heat a large frypan over high heat. Put one tablespoon of olive oil and one tablespoon of unsalted butter in to the pan. Add the mushrooms and sauté until fully cooked. Mushrooms like to give off liquid and you should cook them until that some of that liquid evaporates and some returns to the mushrooms. At this point turn off the heat and add vinegar, chopped parsley and chile flake. Set aside.
I like cream but I am not a big fan of cooked cream sauces so this is a different way to thicken a sauce using pureed leeks instead of reducing the cream or (aghast!) using flour.
Heat a saucepan over medium heat and add one tablespoon of butter. Let the butter bubble and froth and then add the leeks. Add a teaspoon of water, season with a touch of salt and then cover pot. Lower heat to low and cook until leeks are tender, about fifteen minutes.
Puree the leeks with the cream and then set aside.
SO now we have all four elements: The toasted bread, the lobster, the crema, and the mushrooms.
Butter a 8 inch by 8 inch (or so) baking pan and place a bit of crema in the bottom. Arrange two or three boule slices in the bottom and then put a little more crema on top of that. Put down a third of your lobster meat down and then a third of your mushrooms. Repeat until all ingredients are exhausted, making sure you finish with bread and then crema.
Bake at 375 F for twenty minutes. The crema will be bubbly and a bit browned, all yummy like.
What we have learned:
1. I love Old Bay. It is the only prepared spice mix that I use because there's something timeless about the combination. It makes seafood sing!
2. As we learned, par-cooking lobster is pretty dang easy. You could take the same lobster method used here and make a risotto or a poached lobster salad. The trick is to remember that you have only cooked the lobsters half way and they need that next gentle step before gracing that plate.
3. With this I think BIG WHITE. Roussane from Qupe would be great! Qupe is such a smeinal winery in the sphere of American oenology.